Maryland Farm Bureau Convention Assembles to Grow and Shape State’s Agribusiness

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The 107th Maryland Farm Bureau Annual Convention & Meeting of Delegates, an agriculture-focused event includes policy development priorities, awards and programming.

The Maryland farming community gathered to hear from prominent guests and to set the organization’s grassroots policy agenda for the year. Photo credit: Edwin Remsberg

The Maryland farming community gathered to hear from prominent guests and to set the organization’s grassroots policy agenda for the year. Photo credit: Edwin Remsberg

The 107th Maryland Farm Bureau Annual Convention & Meeting of Delegates convened last week at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina in Cambridge, Maryland. The Maryland farming community gathered to hear from prominent guests and to set the organization’s grassroots policy agenda for the year.

Highlights included a new Young Farmer NextGen Summit, recognizing the achievements of the state’s 23 county Farm Bureaus and individual award winners, the selection of the 2023 MDFB Ag Ambassadors, educational workshops and the election of officers.

This year’s keynote speaker was Matt Rush, a fourth-generation New Mexico farmer and rancher and former CEO of the New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau. “Farm Bureau holds a very special place in my heart. I was honored to spend time with the members in Maryland to talk about how we can plant seeds of greatness in others as we work to build future leaders for Maryland’s number one industry,” said Rush.

The convention and meeting of delegates featured the organization’s annual policy development session, roundtable discussions and experts, including representatives from the Maryland Department of Agriculture, University of Maryland Extension and American Farm Bureau Federation, during keynotes, workshops and breakout sessions.

Among the speakers, Veronica Nigh, senior economist for American Farm Bureau Federation said, “Volatility in agriculture and the input markets we rely upon will unfortunately continue to be high for the foreseeable future. Rather than one or two factors that may have a large influence on markets, there are at least a handful.”

Awards
The newly selected Maryland Farm Bureau (MDFB) Ambassadors for 2023 are Jayci Mitchell from Cecil County and Ethan Scofield from Anne Arundel County. Each ambassador will receive a $1,500 scholarship and a trip to American Farm Bureau’s FUSION Conference in Jacksonville in March 2023 as they begin their work of representing Maryland’s next generation ag community.

Joseph Layton of Dorchester County received the Distinguished Service to Farm Bureau award for his lifetime of achievements and service, including serving in several capacities with the Farm Bureau, such as Political Action Committee chairman and board member. The Agri-Woman of the Year was awarded to Frederick County’s Connie Palmer, who has been a member of the Maryland Farm Bureau since 1983. She has been instrumental in getting agricultural books into all elementary school classrooms in Frederick County.

Baltimore and Garrett County Farm Bureaus won Silver Bowl awards for receiving top scores in all program areas in the county awards of excellence recognition program, which include leadership, outreach and more.

The Young Farmers competition is a highlight that showcases the upcoming generation of farming leaders. Winners are:

  • Collegiate Discussion Meet: Grace Tisone of Calvert County attends University of Maryland and will compete at FUSION in Jacksonville in March 2023.
  • Discussion Meet: Shelby Green of Frederick County will compete at American Farm Bureau Federation Convention in Salt Lake City in January 2024.
  • Excellence in Agriculture: Becky Yost of Garrett County will compete at American Farm Bureau Federation Convention in Salt Lake City in January 2024.

In its second year, the Leopold Conservation Award was awarded to a Maryland farm or forestry landowner who exemplified the conservation ethic of the award’s namesake, Aldo Leopold, presented by the Sand County Foundation. Long Green Farms and Caleb and Alice Crothers of Rising Sun won the honor and received a $10,000 prize.

Policy Updates
Nearly 200 farmer-delegates reviewed and adopted five national policy resolutions ranging from eminent domain to regenerative agriculture. In addition, 44 new state policies were adopted. New policy highlights are solar siting, agricultural education, renewable fuels, and roadside tree trimming and maintenance. The upcoming Day in Annapolis state legislative day was announced and will be held in-person on February 8, 2023. Registration is now open on MDFB’s website.

Elections
In addition to the election of Jamie Raley of St. Mary’s County to MDFB’s first vice president role and Jonathan Quinn of Kent County to second vice president; the following individuals were elected to a two-year term on the MDFB board of directors:

  • Matthew Schnebly – District 1, Washington County
  • Michael Calkins – District 2, Howard County
  • Karl Shlagel – District 3, Charles County
  • Amanda Miller – District 4, Cecil County
  • Jennifer Debnam – District 5, Kent County
  • Far Nasir – District 6, Worcester County

Community Outreach
At last week’s event, MDFB’s Young Farmers Committee collected food donations through their Fill-A-Ford-Truck campaign, in partnership with the Maryland Food Bank. In addition, Nationwide donated $2,500 and King Crop Insurance donated $1,000 to benefit the food bank.

MARYLAND FARM BUREAU®, INC. is a 501(c)(5) federation that serves as the united voice of Maryland farm families. Our organizational strength comes from the active participation of over 9,500 individual and family members who belong to the state’s 23 local county Farm Bureau organizations. Since 1915, Maryland Farm Bureau has been committed to protecting and growing agriculture and preserving rural life. Maryland Farm Bureau is a proud member of the American Farm Bureau® Federation. For more information, visit MarylandFB.org.

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